Welcome to the tenth recap of Venice the Series: Season 3 with Kelinswriter (@jessiewolf), Jaina (@Jaina47) and myself (@Ryslerfic). This episode, btw, is gorgeous and lusciously filmed. Well done, guys?
Jaina: WHEN IS ANI GONNA FIND THAT LETTER. I can haz it?
There’s a person in Gina’s life she tells the truth to. Even if her whole life has been a lie. Even if she avoids everyone else and stops asking for help. Even if she’s so ashamed she can only be detached, which makes her flippant, she found someone who will hear her anyway. Who will make her want to say the words. That’s her soulmate. The who or why or what of a soulmate is inexplicable. She may disagree with Gina on everything, she may ruin Gina’s day. But Gina tells her the truth.
“I’ve always been honest with you,” Gina said.
Ani can’t fix it. Richard will fix it. He’s not Gina’s soulmate. He’s just the greatest guy in the world, who thought that would get him somewhere. (See: Ani’s speech.) Save the planet, maybe. Or at least not have someone he trusted, someone he forgave because he’s just that gallant, betray him.
She needs her mother. And her father. And her brother. And Michele, and Jamie. She needs her family–There’s never been one closer. All they do is lie.
So! Jane is having her worst day ever, sitting in her kitchen, her family’s sins now matters for the LAPD. She’s so afraid and depressed she can’t function. She can barely speak. She knows that Brandon is angry. He is so angry. But he negotiates. She gives him some ground. They part, as ever, friends.
Jaina: I think after coffee but before martinis is a good sign. I mean, it shows that Brandon’s willing to give a little right? I mean I don’t think cops are usually so nice over their “someone died” investigations.
Kelinswriter: Guya is in that awful place where you know change is coming and you just want to cling to what’s “normal” for a tiny bit longer. I don’t think it’s burying her head in the sand so much as it is needing time to process. And there’s a lot – not just that Gina and the Colonel are in trouble, but also all her crazy. The happy fun times with Brandon are over – things are about to get serious. Also, I feel like Brandon is being very pointed with her about the martinis. The role alcohol has played in Guya’s arc this season is, I think, an important one.
He’s wearing blue.
Jaina: Guya looks about as tired as I feel.
Katie, standing next to Jane now, watches him go.
Jaina: Amber/Katie…is not very gone. Yay! Hi again. …I typed high again at first. Maybe I was thinking of Guya still?
Kelinswriter: The natural backlight on both their hair is simply stunning. Once again, a lovely framing of these two – the sisters has been the cinematic highlight of the season for me. (Perhaps the story highlight as well, but we’ll see what the remaining episodes bring.)
Katie’s jealous. She demands Jane look after her children.
Jaina: Katie’s not as upset about being here as she was before, but it feels like that’s building, you know? It’s a little scary. Proto-scary? Something like that. Heh. And Guya’s acknowledgement that the kids are a mess was awesome.
“They’re a mess. That can’t be why you’re still here,” Jane says. That can’t be my fault. The accident, and everything that followed.
Kelinswriter: Guya gives this gorgeous, impassioned speech about dying and moving on and it occurs to me just how much agony she’s been in all these years. This guilt over Katie’s death is killing her, and she doesn’t know what to do with it. Suddenly all the drinking and the spiritual obsession and everything else – it makes some toxic sort of sense. Guya hasn’t really been living in the world – she’s been a ghost of sorts, just like Katie. I think a part of her wishes she could just let go too. Katie’s purpose now seems clear – the ghost is hanging around to get her sister to start living again…and I think that’s the thing that scares Guya the most.
You know how I know that Adrienne Wilkinson is a great actress? She can look moody and despondent while that slab of meat is standing right next to her. My god. That body. (Jaina: Eric Martsolf is hot.) Adrienne wants out. She’s not getting out. She’s the Rose Bride, to be won by men but never free. She’s disgusted by her own disgustingness. She’s not like Van.
Which was not part of the deal. Van wants her to be like him. He’s so alone. He doesn’t know anyone like him. He professes Sami is no longer his target. He’s lying. But he reminds Adrienne that he owns her. Why? Wouldn’t we like to know?
Jaina: Adrienne (the character) really does not seem to like Van, in this scene. Not at all. I wonder if it’s a result of her falling for Owen more, or at least coming to realize that he’s a semi-decent human being. On the other hand I don’t think we’ve found out how Van and Adrienne got involved yet, or how he convinced her to do this… Oh right, so that speculation was a little premature. Pardon me. Free is an interesting choice of words. I wonder what he freed her from. Something normal and boring like a job or are we talking prison here? (So damn soapy!)
Kelinswriter: Van is just smarm personified. The way he says “I want to take you out to dinner” makes my skin crawl – it comes across as the slimiest of propositions. The whole thing is just such a bitchslap to Adrienne, and she is starting to get that – or maybe she’s just starting to grow enough of a conscience to realize what a jerkoff she’s signed on board with. We get so much about these two in this exchange – not just that Van used Sami as much as we thought, but that Adrienne likes Owen. This sick quadrangle could keep things hopping for many seasons to come. It’s creepy and gross and icky but…I kinda like it, in part because I get the feeling that what’s going to emerge from it is Adrienne as a really complex, unpredictable character in the mix. (Upon further review, the brilliant @aimlessny points out that Adrienne may be in the sort of trouble that would land her in jail, based on Van’s comments. Blackmail may be afoot.)
Richard is waiting for Gina. He’s so sad and freaked out that he can’t stand still. He’s squirming. But he’s brave. Heart of a lion. So he asks if he has a daughter.
Jaina: “Do we have a child together?” I love love loved this line. The way he was trying to figure out how to spit it out, how crazy he thought it was and knew it sounded. It was fucking perfect.
Gina tries to lie by omission. By deflection. But Richard won’t let it go. A part of him already knows the truth. He just came over to make her say it. She says it. He leaves.
Jaina: Duuuuuuude. The look on his face when she kind of confirmed it. Straight up gut punch. I don’t even know how to dissect that emotion into words, but god, I felt it. I’ll admit as not a huge Carbo fan I wasn’t really invested except for the “Oh cool meta” factor when Peter Reckell came on board, but damn I’m glad he did. That scene was brilliant and breathtaking. Heart wrenching. It’s rare to get to watch someone else bring it at that same level that she usually does and it’s awesome. Incredibly moving to watch.
Kelinswriter: It’d be disingenuous to say I didn’t know this was coming, because, hello. Spoilers aside, however, this was such a masterpiece of acting from these two. How much do I love that Richard just asks her flat out if they have a child? SO MUCH. And I could spend an hour talking about Gina’s first reaction – the cascade of “oh shit, I’m busted/really? now this happens?/okay, play it off play it off” is truly stunning. Richard rambles and Gina tries not to throw up and he wants to believe it’s true and yet doesn’t and then at 4:43 you can see the anger surface and ….JESUS YOU GUYS THIS IS SO GOOD AND I AM SO ENTIRELY PISSED AT A CERTAIN SOAP OPERA RIGHT NOW. But I doubt that venue would have allowed for Gina’s admission to play out with such simplicity and tragic, silent grace. There are literally no words for what she robbed him of, and only now does she get that. On rewatch, I teared up at his last, disbelieving words – Gina has shattered this guy who never wanted to do anything but be a friend to her. She’s betrayed him in a way he may never recover from, and she knows it.
Even Richard hates her. Just like Ani. One she lied to, one she told the truth. But both she abandoned. Just like her kid. (But not Owen. Never Owen. Helicopter parent much?)
Jaina: You know for a second there, I thought Gina was gonna lie about the kid to him. Especially when she said the gay thing was different. I mean, I think she’s right. The two aren’t comparable things, but I dunno. I’m just curious what all impact that’s going to have. The biggest influence I could see it having is making her relationship with the Colonel more difficult. I think he might be pretty pissed. Something tells me he’d be a doting grandpa though. As long as the “kid” was perfect.
Meanwhile back at Hell Bar, Sami and Lara are drinking together. Lara’s been giving Sami pages of her new book. Lara’s character should stop being so good. No one likes good. Be wild. Sami has some opinions. Lara likes attention that doesn’t come with baggage.
Kelinswriter: Oh look, it’s drunks on parade. I mean, you’re in California, at least hang out in an outdoor bar. And on a professional level, I’m entirely offended by Sami presuming to tell Lara how to write her novel. Seriously, Lara, are you so insecure that you’re going to take writing advice from some lush you barely know? Because most writers I know would be all “fuck off” at that point. Her acceptance of this drivel Sami’s spouting makes me think there’s a lot going on with Lara that she maybe doesn’t realize. I mean, she’s shown Sami her pages, she’s being accepting about Sami’s bad advice…and uh-oh, there’s that look, that look she gave Ani in the coffee shop. Lara may now know it yet, but she’s on the prowl.
Jaina: Sami is seriously bringing the haterade today. What did Ani ever do to her? Besides get in the way of this little scam Sami’s running on Lara. And Sami does seem to be quite the pickup artist. Isn’t that the technique? A little slam to get a woman interested then some critique with a little flattery and some, “You can do better?” Because that’s what that speech seemed like to me. In contrast to Ani’s “This is wonderful, babe.”
Gina runs to Ani. Even though Lara might be there. Even though Ani knows about her letter. She shows up at Ani’s door and Ani takes her in.
Jaina: Season 1 all over again. Gina hurts and she’s running to Ani. The only one who can make it better? I suppose. But this time she’s nervous and scared and jumpy as hell because she won’t be vulnerable like this in front of Lara. I think she’s broken enough that she doesn’t care what Ani thinks of her any more, or Ani’s defense of her at the party took some of the sting out of Lara’s words.
Kelinswriter: Gina says, “Richard knows,” and Ani gets it, instantly. They know each other that well. Her heart is breaking and so is Gina’s because she finally understands what she’s given up and how her silence has wreaked havoc in the lives of so many of the people she loves.
They flashback to the Beach of Sadness.
Kelinswriter: Apparently it is also 1977 in the flashbacks.
Exposition happens. In a way it’s a re-tread–no new facts are introduced–just perspective. It’s a scene where nothing really happens, but it’s incredibly important. It’s a normal day in Ani/Gina-ville. It’s hanging out.
Kelinswriter: Oh man, I love that we have the ultimate lesbian dividing line embodied in this couple – lesbians who slept with guys on the way to figuring it out, and lesbians who figured it out early enough to have never known the touch of man. Someone needs to do a doctoral thesis on this because you could explore it from a sociological standpoint for, like, a century. (PS Gina’s camp.)
Jaina: Gina’s “Seriously?” Oh so awesome. I literally laughed out loud. Bad Jaina the Library Patron.
Kelinswriter: Poor Gina. She had to be a grownup so early that she never actually had a chance to grow up. It explains a lot about how reactionary she is and how afraid she is to let anyone in. Even Ani’s expression of sympathy is hard for her to take – she immediately brushes it off, focuses on what she did for Owen, that she had a job to do and she did it. (Rysler: So Colonel of her.)
Jaina: I love that little move, bringing her hand to her face that says that Gina was clearly not okay with Ani’s junior psych analysis. Squirmage!
But Gina has a moment where she can tell her biggest secret. Because Ani is pressing, but giving her space at the same time. Ani gives her a choice. So Gina goes all reporter: “I had a baby it got adopted I don’t feel bad about it.” Ani presses. She gets words Gina’s been telling herself for over fifteen years. Ani doesn’t buy them.
Jaina: I think Ani’s insides just wibbled a little bit at the thought of Gina’s little girl. And wow, I’m really loving that we get to see Gina tell Ani all this stuff. She’s, well, I’m not gonna say open. You can tell she’s not used to saying this. It seems hard for her, but she’s telling Ani now, laying it out for her one piece at a time. And Ani’s not freaking out or anything. She’s just taking it all in – but not in a gawkerish way.
Jaina: “Nobody else knows.” Yeah, that’s right, Ani, this is an offering, something Gina’s laying at your feet. It’s “I love you. I trust you. I’m all in.” And it doesn’t make it any less scary for Gina either. It’s awesome that Ani gets it immediately too.
Kelinswriter: What’s fascinating to me is that Ani is feeling this story in a way that Gina isn’t. Gina’s just reciting the facts of her life, facts she’s always kept locked away, and Ani is feeling all the fear and pain that lonely teenaged Gina must have gone through. I find it interesting that Gina thinks she would have been a horrible mother after she’s just told us that she essentially raised Owen. It reminds me a little of people I know who chose to stay childless because they were old enough to be, in many ways, another parent to a younger sibling – like they’ve somehow done their time and feel they don’t have it in them to do it again. Key phrases jump out here – “Good guy” and “living a lie.” (Your Otalia is showing, Venice.)
Jaina: “Living a lie?” Now where have we heard that before? Damn, I can’t remember. jk But yeah, I like the point that Gina brings up here. It was one I hadn’t considered, a new little twist on this storyline.
Jaina: Oh and a nice couple? I wonder if they’ve been cast already? Do you think we’ll get to see them? I just got a vibe.
Kelinswriter: Gina has had so much time to rationalize this in her head. I can’t help but think of all the sleepless nights she must have spent fighting with herself over the choice she made – they are implicit in her voice, and in how emotionally distant she is from this revelation. “It’s done, moving on” seems to be her motto (one we’ve seen her demonstrate in the past regarding relationships). The only emotion we see from her comes afterwards, when Ani asks why she’s talking about it. There’s the outpouring of emotion we expected earlier, only it’s not about the baby she let go of, but about how for the first time, she has someone who she feels she can count on and who will be there for her. Oh, Gina. You really did fuck up, didn’t you?
Jaina: Okay, or maybe Ani didn’t quite get it all the way. She knew it was big, but… Or is this Ani’s demons kicking in again?
Kelinswriter: Back in the present, Ani wipes Gina’s tears away. Why aren’t these two together?
Lara’s completely wasted. Sami hits on her. Lara makes an oh-shit face that’s priceless. But she’s too drunk to do anything about it and Sami knows.
Jaina: “You really do have such beautiful eyes.” Finally Sami says something I can agree with without reservation!
Kelinswriter: The barflies are shitfaced, or well on their way. And Sami is playing Lara like a fiddle, and Lara is too much of a dumbass to realize it. That “I should probably go” sound a lot like “I really want to fuck you.” And then she says it again.
Jaina: I’m glad Lara wasn’t drinking because she was going home to her girlfriend. That seems to have worked well for her. I wonder how Sami guessed about Lara’s dark side. Just a good guess or is she getting her information from somewhere?
Van sees them. He does not look pleased.
Jaina: Hmmm, Van watching Lara and Sami. Now that’s interesting. He…probably, maybe recognizes Lara? Or I mean, unless his memories of that beach party fall into a vortex. More importantly, he’s watching Sami put the moves on Lara. Cause clearly there was movement. He admitted earlier that he didn’t really care about Sami. Cruel guy, this Van. So does seeing what she’s doing make Sami more important to him or more repulsive.
Back on Ani’s couch: “You can find me. You can always find me,” Ani says.
Ani’s wearing these ridiculous earrings. This whole scene–this whole frickin’ episode–is so season one. Anyway, Gina confesses the pressure of behaving. It’s been hard, and it keeps sucking. Somehow it’s sucking worse. She lets something slip. A little plaintive cry for mercy. “You–I’ve been good.”
Jaina: Ah, the consoling powers of Ani’s naked shoulder. Bliss. If only Gina could enjoy it. Because she’s just…broken.
Ani’s too happy being needed by Gina to notice. She makes fun of Gina. “Did you think if you were good everything’s gonna work out?” She uses her baby voice. How long has it been since she’s done that with Lara? Since she’s been happy?
Jaina: Aw, the way that Ani cutely mocks Gina for thinking that if she was “good” things would work out is so…cute. She does it in such an adorable way. AWESOME.
“Otherwise, why bother?” Gina asks. Word. (Lara: Word.)
“You needed a friend,” Ani said.
“I need you.”
Jaina: “I need you.” God. Talk about another gut punch. This is Gina not holding back. She thinks Ani’s read that letter. Everything is different and Ani has no idea where it’s coming from. ::sniffle::
Kelinswriter: I love how Ani teases Gina about thinking that if she did the right thing, her life would be good. It reminds me of that wonderfully practical and wise Ani we met on the beach in Season 1. “I need you,” Gina lets slip. And it was present tense, which is huge, because “need you” is not about a specific moment, it’s about ongoing presence. Ani gets it but doesn’t know what to do with it so she busts Gina’s chops some more and Gina just looks at her, unable to hide that she is beyond head over heels in love.
Ani doesn’t know why she said that. But she’s happy. She calls Gina, “sweetie.” (Jaina: Eeeee! Sweetie!) And she sends Gina on a mission. A quest.
Kelinswriter: It makes me sad when the moment is over, when she has to get back to her life and her problems and walk away from this person who really should be with her every step of the way and…sorry, got distracted by those damn blue jeans again. By the way, in the world I live in, you go to the door with a guest, even one who’s more than capable of walking themselves out. What’s up with that, Ani?
Ani watches Gina go, and then sits down and re-arranges Lara’s papers for the hundredth time, and waits for her life to be different.
Jaina: I think the letter sitting there buried in Lara’s stack of things but almost plainly visible in that last scene almost killed me OMG. From the first second I saw those papers at the beginning of the scene I just KNEW that Ani was gonna find the letter when Gina walked out the door. That was so close. Torture, I tell you. Brilliant, but torture. Gah.
Kelinswriter: LETTER ALERT. Lara, you are a dumbass. But lucky for us, you’re a dumbass who lives on a soap opera. When this bomb blows, it is going to be, to quote Owen, “Fucking epic.”